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Pet owners more tuned in to cats and doggos in distress

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People who own cats or dogs are more sensitive to their whimpers than non-pet owners, a Danish study has found. By exposing 500 young people who owned cats, dogs, both, or neither, to the distress calls of pets, they found those who had a furry companion perceived such calls as sadder. Everyone agreed dog whimpers were sadder and on par with the cries of babies. They also found levels of depression and anxiety were similar in both those who owned pets and those who didn't, discrediting the notion of a 'crazy cat lady'.

Journal/conference: Royal Society Open Science

DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181555

Organisation/s: Aarhus University, Denmark

Funder: The Trygfonden Charitable Foundation and the European Research Council.

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Empethy: Pawsitively sad: Pet-owners are more sensitive to negative emotion in animal distress vocalisations 

We are all familiar with the sounds of a cat or dog vying for human attention. For pet-owners, these sounds may be particularly evocative. This study, testing more than 500 young adults, found that pet owners perceive cat meows and dog whimpers as significantly sadder than adults with no pets. Regardless of pet ownership, the dog sounds were rated as sadder than the cat sounds, in fact as sad as human baby cries. We also found no differences between adults with and without pets on their symptoms of depression, anxiety or self-reported experiences in close relationships.


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